When living became a crime

Guest contribution by Isaac K. Agboola

Palestine.
So far removed from the struggle of my brother.
The agony, the pain, the chaos.
It’s hard to believe that we came from the same mother.

It’s funny how quickly you get really good at goodbyes.
I remember when they just used to take seconds and were quickly forgotten.
But these days the sentiments are more intimate.
The time spent is intentional, because walking out the doorway might not just be the exit from home, but an exit from the life that we know.

The skies darken, sirens wail, and the air is covered in ashes.
Who will survive us, if all the kin we have are mannequins?
Lifeless, limp, and desolate.

Who will be the voice to cry for us?
The ones we assumed would be the protectors have long since been muffled.
I have no stakes in this war.
I just wasn’t aware of when living became a crime.

It’s unfortunate that I was born here.
It’s unfortunate I look the way I do.
Its unfortunate that I live on this side.
It’s unfortunate for Palestine.

Editor’s note: This performance piece was written by a friend who I met for the first time less than two years ago. We attended a Master’s program together and between our classes, we frequently delved into very deep conversation about structural racism, settler colonialism, and the struggles of growing up politicized in a society that shamed us over our identities.

We gave each other history lessons, taught each other words and phrases in our native tongues, and shared personal family stories about struggle and, more importantly, resolve and resiliency.

Our friendship carried on through Israel’s most recent assault on the Gaza Strip. The invasion left a lasting impression on Isaac and he reached out to me, sending me this poem and wishing the best for my family and the families of the Palestinians he has since met.

The piece is scripted from the point of view of someone living outside of Palestine but acutely aware of the struggles they are going through. The piece presents a life of pain and calamity that is at odds with the kind of lifestyle we take for granted. I could never imagine what it must be like in Palestine so I thought I would shed some light on how fortunate we are here in the United States where we are not faced with the kinds of hardships faced by humankind around the world.

Isaac K. Agboola

Isaac K. Agboola is a medical student at Write State University’s Boonshoft School of Medicine. He began writing poetry at the age of 14 and co-founded a poetry open-mic called “Wednesday Words of Wisdom” at the University of North Dakota where he earned his bachelor’s degree.

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